Riot’s MD Caitlin Allen Gives Her Five Copywriting Tips for Family Brands

illustration of a Moomintroll

This article first appeared in Total Licensing.

At Riot Communications, we’re lucky to have worked with some of the world’s most-loved family brands – from literary classics like Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, to stars of the screen including Aardman’s Shaun the Sheep and Wallace & Gromit.

We were recently asked by our long-standing client Moomin Characters to pen new long-form profiles for all the key characters in Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories – which was a great honour, as these profiles are used so extensively, from the brand’s consumer-facing website to its guidelines for licensees – and it got us thinking about best practice when copywriting for family brands.

Here are five top tips we wanted to share:

  1. Go back to the source. Whether the source material for the brand is a set of books, comics, scripts, a film, TV series or game, the best way to prepare for a copywriting task is to re-immerse yourself in the world of the brand as it was first imagined by its creator. What’s the atmosphere like? What are the values that come through in the source material? What stylistic choices have been made? What effect does that create? Actively thinking about these questions will deliver the best results – but even just reading a few pages or watching a couple of short clips should help get you into the right mindset.
  2. Know your characters. We love working with character brands and have learnt a thing or two over the years about why certain characters appeal more deeply than others. The trick is tension – characters that are one-dimensional can serve a purpose, but the ones that stay with us are the ones who are more complex and contradictory. For example, in the Moomin stories, Moomintroll both loves adventure and continually seeks the warmth and safety of his family home. His best friend Snufkin is both fiercely independent and utterly reliable: although he leaves for a solo adventure each autumn, he faithfully returns to Moominvalley every spring. Finding the tension in your characters will help unlock what really makes them tick.
  3. Pay homage. In most cases, you won’t want to be exactly mimicking the original creator or source material, but you should pay homage to their style – so it’s important to be familiar with it. What tone does the source material take? Are there particular sayings or turns of phrase that the creator (or characters) use? What reading age is it aimed at? Think about how you can capture something of the creator’s or the character’s voice in what you’re writing – this can be subtle yet still reminiscent of the original material.
  4. Offer something for both children and adults. The most beloved family brands appeal to all ages by offering something for grown-ups as well as for kids. Can you work in some humour or philosophy or worldly wisdom that will speak to older readers, without making the text inaccessible or incomprehensible to children? The key to this is creating layers of meaning, so that different people can take different things from the text.
  5. Have fun. This should be obvious – but if you’re not having fun writing something, how likely is it that people are going to have fun reading it? Be playful, be free, and let your love of the brand shine through. You can always tone it down in subsequent drafts, if required, but it’s better to have an abundance of enthusiasm that you can edit down later than not enough warmth or passion coming through in your writing.

If you’re keen for further inspiration, you can read some of our new character profiles for Moomin Characters here and here.


Caitlin Allen, MD, Riot Communications


Image: © Moomin Characters™

Aardman Celebrates 30 Years of Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers

The Wrong Trousers x Olympia Le Tan clutch bag

Bristol, UK – The multi-award-winning independent animation studio Aardman has today (23rd January) announced its plans for the 30th anniversary celebrations of Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers.

Released in 1993, The Wrong Trousers was the first film starring the beloved duo to win an Oscar and introduced fan favourite Feathers McGraw, a villainous penguin with ambitions to put Wallace’s inventions to criminal use.

Highlights of the 30th anniversary year include:

  • The release of a limited edition The Wrong Trousers x Olympia Le Tan designer clutch bag featuring Wallace wearing his ‘Techno-Trousers’ alongside Gromit and Feathers McGraw
  • A partnership between Aardman and the Cartoon Museum in London, showcasing Wallace & Gromit artwork over the years with an exciting, never-before-seen exhibition and public events
  • The launch of a new Wallace & Gromit-themed escape room adventure called ‘A Grand Way Out’ at Locked In A Room, Bristol
  • 30 performances of The Wrong Trousers with live orchestral accompaniment, staged by Carrot Productions, taking place all over the UK to mark 30 years since the film’s release

The 30th anniversary celebrations coincide with the production of a brand-new Wallace & Gromit film – the first since 2008’s A Matter of Loaf and Death, which was the UK’s most-viewed TV programme of the 2000s with over 16.2 million viewers tuning in to watch. This brand-new, as-yet untitled adventure will premiere exclusively on Netflix around the world except in the UK, where it will debut first on the BBC before also coming to Netflix. It is set for release in 2024.

Also currently in production is an interactive, narrative-led, single player VR experience for the Meta Quest all-in-one VR headset. ‘The Grand Getaway’ will enable users to walk around, explore and get hands-on (or paws-on) within the world of Wallace & Gromit and truly be a part of the pair’s adventures for the first time.

Nick Park commented:

“It’s very exciting to have some brand-new Wallace & Gromit stories in the works as we celebrate the anniversary of such an important moment in the characters’ history. The Wrong Trousers was a special film for all of us at Aardman. It’s wonderful that it continues to find new fans today, and that we can bring those fans more adventures – and more inventions, more mishaps, and more problems for Gromit to solve.”

The limited edition The Wrong Trousers x Olympia Le Tan designer clutch bag will sell only 77 numbered copies. From the original hand-embroidery in thread and felt appliqué, to the unique Liberty-printed lining, every detail is carefully considered. One clutch can take up to 300 hours of work. The clutch bag will be available exclusively from as of today (23rd January).

The Aardman exhibition at the Cartoon Museum in London will open in September 2023 with an exciting never-before-seen exhibition running until April 2024. Visit the museum to see the only remaining clips, storyboards and movie materials that exist for the classic The Wrong Trousers. Alongside this, the Cartoon Museum will be running multiple events for the public from August 2023.

‘A Grand Way Out’, the new Wallace & Gromit-themed escape room adventure, invites fans to assist the much-loved duo in a race against time. With little over an hour until the village science fete, and eager to show off his new invention, Wallace has forgotten the code to his workshop. With the help of Gromit, players will don the Memory-O-Matic helmet and take a trip down memory lane to help him remember it – before it’s too late! The locked room adventure has been piloted at Locked In A Room, Bristol’s largest escape game experience located in the heart of the city on Millennium Square, and two further rooms will open in March 2023.

Further anniversary plans include:

  • Lots of exciting new Wallace & Gromit products and ranges from licensees including jewellery company Licensed to Charm, paper engineers Paper Engine, and eco-conscious independent tea mixology company Bird & Blend Tea Co., who are launching a themed tin containing 20 tea bags that have been specially blended with Wallace & Gromit in mind – it will be an energising everyday brew, perfect for inventors and those needing a lift! Plus, a partnership with Carrs Pasties to launch a new Wallace & Gromit inspired ‘More Cheese, Ham & Jam Pasty’, containing a blend of four cheese (Wensleydale, Red Leicester, Mature Cheddar, Mozzarella), pulled ham and caramelised onion.
  • A celebration of Wallace & Gromit’s Wrong Trousers Day on Friday 30 June 2023, the annual fundraising event from Aardman’s charity partner, The Grand Appeal, which encourages people to wear their wackiest legwear and donate for the right to look wrong. The Grand Appeal is the dedicated charity for Bristol Children’s Hospital.
  • The annual Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and Aardman ‘Wallace & Gromit’s Cracking Ideas’ competition, which this year will have the theme ‘make The Wrong Trousers right’. Budding inventors will be tasked with the challenge of re-inventing Wallace’s ‘Techno-Trousers’ and turning them into something that can do good for our planet. The competition will be supported by teaching resources, home study packs and a series of events in partnership with regional science centres and museums.
  • Expanded retail presence for Wallace & Gromit – particularly at HMV stores across the UK.
  • Screenings across the UK of The Wrong Trousers with the soundtrack performed live by the WFEL Fairey Band, one of the world’s finest brass bands.
  • Model making workshops taking place at family festivals all over the UK, where fans can learn how to make their own Gromit and Feathers McGraw models from modelling clay.

Visit to keep up to date with all Wallace & Gromit news.

Cheerio Reveals Cover Art and Rough Trade Partnership for Jeremy Deller’s Art Is Magic

Art is Magic book cover

CHEERIO has partnered with legendary record shop Rough Trade on sales for Jeremy Deller’s upcoming book, Art is Magic, it is announced today (Monday 9th January 2023) with all pre-orders to include signed copies, exclusive stickers and pop-ups from the Turner Prize-winning artist.

An entertaining and revealing journey into the mind of one of Britain’s greatest contemporary artists, Art is Magic sees Jeremy Deller bring together for the first time key works from his career alongside the art, pop music, film, politics and history that have inspired him. 

Pulling together all Deller’s cultural touchstones – from acid house and brass bands to crop circles and folk traditions – and featuring conversations between the artist and an eclectic mix of cultural figures and collaborators, from fashion provocateur Sportsbanger to classicist Mary Beard, Art is Magic offers an unpredictable and exhilarating tour of a unique mind.

From his inflatable Stonehenge for the Glasgow International Festival to the Miners’ Strike, bats (a subject in at least three of Deller’s works), and Andy Warhol, to the links between the Industrial Revolution and heavy metal, hen harriers pecking out the eyes of a Tory MP and the Somme anniversary piece We’re Here Because We’re Here, there is something for art lovers, fans and the culturally curious alike. The text is brought to life by artwork from across Deller’s oeuvre, including work which has never been seen before.

Jeremy Deller studied Art History at the Courtauld Institute and at Sussex University. He won the Turner Prize in 2004 for his work ‘Memory Bucket’ and represented Britain in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. His projects, such as The Battle of Orgreave (2001), We’re Here Because We’re Here (2016) and the documentary Everybody in the Place: An Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 (2019), have influenced the conventional map of contemporary art.

Art is Magic (£25) – published in hardback on 4th May 2023 priced – is CHEERIO’s flagship publication for 2023. Pre-orders are available here.